As someone that generates a portion of my income passively online, by sharing content, I am always interested in different monetization approaches. I am not referring to the “get paid to” model where one is trading time for a finite amount of money. I am also not referring to selling products and trying to acquire customers either. Not that these are bad approaches to earning a living online, but… it’s nice to have income generators that require very little routine processes in order to stay profitable.
As an example, I have a web site built using WordPress, that took me 2 hours to setup. To put that in terms of dollars, I could have outsourced it for $50-$100. I outsource the “routine processes”, which in this case is creating and adding new content. The rest is automated (sharing to social, sharing content to the newsletter, organic traffic from search engines because of SEO best practices, etc). This particular money machine is 4.5x profitable based on the amount of money I spend on content. It requires virtually none of my time, but I peek into the stats on occasion. My team writes and publishes based on the process I created and demonstrated in video and written instruction. To be completely transparent, there is of course the expense of hosting (shared amongst my others sites), sending emails (shared amongst my others sites), and yearly domain name fees, but I’m sure that you get the picture.
Below are the 3 monetization strategies that I use, to allow me to set and forget. Sure, testing might increase my numbers, but there are just so many variables. I want to swing in my hammock, soak in the sun, spend time with loved ones, and just relax a little… and only when I feel motivated, I want to work. So for me, at the moment, I have tested a sufficient amount. But test, tweak and try new things if that gets you excited.
Contextual and retargeted advertising with AdSense and Amazon
Most of you have heard of AdSense I am sure, but I will explain briefly anyhow. It’s a Google advertising product for publishers. You can place AdSense code into your web site, and an ad will be created dynamically.
The ad that shows depends on many factors. Typically though, the ad is related to the content of the page that it’s on (contextual). Other times it is for sites that the current visitor has previously visited (retargeting).
Placing these ads, will earn you money per click. There’s nothing else to do, but place them and wait. If you are using WordPress, you can place them in a template file, or use a plugin or widget. They will then show on every page. Or, you can create a new one for each article, and create a “channel” within your AdSense account to see how many impressions, clicks, and earnings that you are making for each ad/article.
Amazon has something similar. You can run contextual ads, even of the same size and orientation as your AdSense ads. Amazon will use their proprietary algorithms to determine the subject matter of the page that the ad is running on, and show related products that exist within the Amazon marketplace. If someone clicks the ad, you can get a commission for any product that person purchases from the Amazon web site, or in some cases, the sites of Amazon’s partners.
With Amazon, you can also place backup ad codes, so that if they do not have an ad available for you, your backup ad code will display. You can use AdSense for the backups if you wish. Amazon also offers ads with the same model as AdSense where you can get paid on click rather than commissions for sales.
Accepting donations by PayPal for people that heart my work
Another way to get money from your efforts, is to ask for donations. It’s simple. You can place a widget within your sidebar, and basically say… if you enjoy what I have shared with you… click this button and send me some money. This works well through PayPal. You can receive money this way any time of day and it’ll be instantly available to you (in the majority of cases). The other approaches usually require you to wait for a check or deposit within a month or two.
Here is how to setup your WordPress site to accept donations by PayPal:
- Download the plugin from its page on the WordPress repository.
- Upload the plugin through the “Plugins” section on your blog. WordPress will unzip it for you.
- Activate it.
- Go to Settings -> PayPal Donations and start entering your info.
Watch the video below for a visual of the installation and config:
Embedding in-context links to related affiliate offers
I really like this approach. Within your content, if you speak about a specific product or service, you can likely find somewhere on the Internet that sells that product and offers referral commissions.
Then you can place links (your affiliate link) within your articles, and get paid when someone makes a purchase after clicking those links. You can link directly to a product within the Amazon marketplace for example, and then earn commissions for anything in the person’s cart. This can work with any e-Store that has an affiliate program.
Digital products generally offer the most commission. When linking to affiliate products for physical products, using a reputable, well known company, like Amazon can yield great results because of the trust factor. However, commissions are generally low for physical products.
Remember, commissions and pay-per-click are not usually “instant-money” whereas receiving donations usually is. Try all three!